Reflections of a business guru

CHARLES HANDY has been through a lot of challenges in a long career as a manager at Royal Dutch Shell, an oil giant, followed by a spell in academia and acclaim as a business writer championing more flexible, less hierarchical organisations. His latest battle is with his health. Earlier this year, the then 86-year-old Irishman suffered a stroke which meant that he had to learn to walk, talk and even swallow all over again. True to his reputation as a business guru, the experience taught him a valuable lesson, as he explained to Bartleby in a recent interview.

As far as Mr Handy was concerned, the point of his hospital stay was to allow him to recover as fully as possible. That meant he needed to be up and about. In the view of the nurses, that was a potential problem; he might fall and hurt himself. Their priority was to keep him safe. In practice, that required him to stay in bed and keep out of trouble.

The experience led him to reflect on the “curse of efficiency”. Organisations focus so much on efficiency that they fail to be effective. Instead of concentrating on their core goal, they pay attention to narrower measures like cutting costs, or reducing the inconvenience suffered by their staff. Examples of the problem can be found in many places. The purpose of education is to prepare children for later life,...

via Business Feeds

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